Winter Squash

I enjoy growing winter squash and intend to keep growing lots of it, even as we scale down overall.

We grow butternut, acorn, spaghetti and delicata–all delicious, easy to store and popular at the market.

Unfortunately deer enjoy winter squash too and unless we’re careful to keep the garden protected from them they’ll take bites out of the butternut, spaghetti and delicata squashes. Rather than just eat the entire squash, they take a bite out of one, then move down the row, ruining each squash with just one bite. Maddening.

Luckily they don’t eat acorn squash (so far), probably because the skin is too tough for them. So next year I plan to dedicate a separate garden to acorn squash and eggplant (the only other thing we grow that deer don’t eat). The other winter squashes will be in our more secure “summer veggies” garden.

As an experiment I plan to add Hubbard squash this year. From the looks of it I’m guessing it won’t be attractive to deer, so the tentative plan is to grow some in the acorn squash garden. If any readers have experience with deer and Hubbard squashes I’d appreciate hearing about it.

This year I had to be careful when harvesting our butternuts. It’s not unusual to find a black widow spider underneath a watermelon, and I’m always careful to look carefully before putting my hand under one. But this year we had lots of black widows under the butternuts too.

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A friend of mine was bitten by one of these nasty boogers while picking watermelons a couple of years ago and it was a painful experience.

If only they could be convinced to bite deer noses…

 

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14 comments on “Winter Squash

  1. thesnowwoman says:

    I would die if I saw that in the garden!

    Like

  2. shoreacres says:

    Here’s a tidbit about butternut squash you may not know. Monarch butterfly caterpillars will eat butternut squash if milkweed isn’t available. It has to be organic squash, and it MUST be washed PERFECTLY clean before being peeled and cut, even if it’s organic, since a knife can carry BT into the flesh even if the squash is peeled. In that case, it’s goodbye, monarchs. But it is a good substitute — just place small cubes on milkweed stems, or even on twigs.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ed says:

    The deer will eat blue hubbard squash, especially when they are younger and the skin more tender. We raise blue hubbard squash every few years and really love them. I think of the squash family, they make the best pumpkin pies. I always can a bunch before they go bad and eat them that way for a couple years until the next batch are planted.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. avwalters says:

    And that would be the ultimate in Integrated Pest Management. Perhaps you could just prominently post pictures of spiders–and give as much pause to the deer as you do to your poor readers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I’ve considered land mines.
      Someone told me that they used to chain a dog to a stake in their garden at night. When the deer came around the dog would chase them off. But over time the deer learned that the dog was chained and they would eat the garden right up to the limit of the dog’s chain. Must have infuriated the poor dog.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. valbjerke says:

    Those wretched spiders were abundant in the Okanagan – I can still recall my grandmother sweeping them down from the ceiling in the farm shop. I don’t have a 🕷 phobia per se- but black widows are my least favorite. Around here, we have an abundance of other fat spiders – I make a point of not looking up when I go into the barn, or the feed room…..that’s where they like to hang out. 😳

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      We have some harmless and beneficial garden spiders that look ferocious. I’ve gotten used to them and they don’t bother me at all. I’ve even gotten to the point where I can work in the immediate vicinity of a black widow without worrying. But they’re just as dangerous as they look, so I try to be very careful around them. My friend who was bitten now wears gloves when she’s picking watermelons.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Crazy deer there in VA! They don’t touch the squash at all here, just pole beans, not bush, any brassica except arugula and any kind of berry, plants or fruit. You might have good luck with Sweet Meat squash, similar to Hubbard and keeps a full year in dry storage. Oregon deer don’t care for them 😉

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    • Bill says:

      Now that you mention it, I don’t recall them ever eating arugula here either. So I have another deer-proof option! I’ll look into Sweet Meat squash. Thanks for the tip.

      Like

  7. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, I come to realize that deer will eat most any thing if they are hungry enough. I have the deer and raccoons under control in Terra Nova Gardens so now I’m down to the field mice that like to dig out the seeds in the spring. I guess it will have to be plant starts for every thing.

    Have a great day of garden planning.

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    • Bill says:

      Here it’s not a question of them being hungry. We live on 300 lush acres and there is no shortage of deer food. They’ve just developed a preference for our gardens.

      We have field mice here but I’ve never had much problem from them in the gardens, other than with cantaloupes. We have had problems with birds eating seeds and of course crows eating seed corn.

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